Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is Costco really a deal?

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity of having my husband home so I took advantage of him! He stayed with the girls while I went shopping. It really made everything easier for me. Albertsons had "Twice the Value" coupons this week and I really wanted to score some sweet deals. There were also four coupon inserts in the Sunday paper so I bought extra of those (6 copies total). I've noticed that, to get some REALLY good deals, you need to buy many items at a time. Having more copies of a particular coupon helps you get better prices. Anyway, that's a side note. The point is, after getting a total of 6 papers, I had 6 sets of doubler coupons. This gave me a lot of opportunity to get good deals. I just had to do everything in 6 transactions. There was also a Pillsbury catalina and General Mills promotion going on at the same time. The General Mills promotion offered $5 off for every 10 participating General Mills products purchased. For one transaction, I bought 6 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, 6 Pillsbury Grands! rolls, and 8 Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers. This was 20 items so I got $10 off my purchase. I also doubled 3 $1 coupons and got a $3 Catalina back for buying 6 Pillsbury products. In the end, each item cost $0.50 and I got a $3 Catalina back! The next day I got 6 Freschetta pizzas (these are our favorites) for $2.50 each and free Mission Tortillas.
Here is the heart of this post. After doing all my Albertsons shopping, I went to Costco to buy some things that I haven't found cheaper. Yet. I bought paper plates, bread, peanut butter, Frosted Flakes cereal and some Kashi bars. In the end, I spent over $100!! As I was walking out, I looked at the few items in my cart and knew that I could get almost everything much cheaper. We get a good deal on gas and we buy some high price items there so I don't think we'll ever get rid of our membership. However, I see a day when we won't be buying groceries or household products there. I just don't think Costco is such a deal anymore.
Now, after that insight, I'm going to go cut out my coupons from my six papers! It's all worth the effort :-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Free cheese!!

I know! I know! I said I wasn't going to shop at Albertson's unless I had their doubler coupons. But, this was too good of a deal to pass up. I paid $5 for all the items below. At the end, I received a $5 catalina. So, everything was free!!
I had to do everything in four transactions which helped me get a little bit of exercise. Since I have to leave the store between each transaction, I had many trips out to my car. How this all worked was as follows. I had a coupon for $5 off 5 Kraft items. The Kraft cheese is on sale for $2 a bag or block. For the first transaction, the cost of 5 bags of cheese was $10, minus the $5 off 5 bags coupon made the total $5 up front. I then received a $5 catalina to use on my next transaction. I went back and bought 5 more bags of cheese, again for $10. With a $5 off 5 bags coupon and a $5 catalina made the total $0 with a $5 catalina received for my next transaction. I did the same for the bags only bought 5 blocks of cheese. Again, received a $5 catalina which I used to buy the Cool Whip. The Cool Whip was $1 a tub. Five tubs then cost $5 which I used my $5 catalina to purchase. I then received a $5 catalina from this transaction to use the next time I shop at Albertson's.
A few months ago, I had no idea what a catalina was or that you could use them this way to keep getting free food! If you are reading this and wondering what a catalina is and how you can use it, please leave a comment and I'll try to explain it in another post.

My Bath and Body Works Order

Here is my order from Bath and Body Works with my five bottles of Dark Kiss lotion!

The full price cost of this purchase would have been $70.20. With my super duper deal, I got these for $32.00 shipped. Maybe those who are great bargain finders would wait until the lotion was on clearance and get it all for like $10. However, I wanted the lotion now. Did I mention how much I love it!! My favorite scent right now.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Today we had a birthday party. I plan to upload pictures to my other blog sometime soon. Needless to say, I've been busy trying to pull things together. There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into a simple 3 hour party for little kids! I was almost cringing at the store when I bought a lot of party favors that were not on sale and for which I didn't have any coupons for. I was definitely starting to think of the next party and how I was going to do things a little differently, and cheaper. I was really thankful for some of the stockpile I've been trying to build. It was easy to just grab a few bags of hot dog buns out of the freezer, ketchup, plates and cups off the shelf and just put them all together and go. I also saw the need to have a few things on hand that we don't normally eat but that other people like. For example, I don't eat chips but I bought a few bags just because that's something people like to eat at picnics and other get togethers. Hopefully the next party will be done more frugally.
Anyway, since I was planning and preparing for this party today, I didn't have a chance to get to Rite Aid last week. There were some good deals on things that I could use but I just couldn't find the time to get there. I told myself it was all okay because I don't really need to go shopping every week. Right now I'm building up my stockpile of toiletries and other household items you can buy at Rite Aid. So I feel more of a need or desire to get all the deals every week. But I've read that the deals will come around again and it's not the end of the world to miss a few here and there. But, when we got done with the party today, I couldn't wait to get my coupons together and get to Rite Aid before it closed. There weren't any super great deals this week but I just needed to go. It's my favorite store and I was starting to miss it! I'm feeling pretty good about my trip(s), however. I actually went to Rite Aid this morning before the party to get four 2-Liter bottles of 7-UP. They were 4 for $5 with a $2 +UP reward which is like getting $2 back. This afternoon, I took those $2 and, with coupons, bought $24 worth of stuff for $2.50 and received $8 in +UP rewards. Again, the +UP rewards are like getting cash back. In total today, I spend about $7.50 and got back $8 so essentially broke even. I feel good about it.
I had wanted to go to Albertsons and get some free cheese but I forgot my coupon for that. All of the activities of the day have finally caught up to me and I'm feeling a little tired. So I've decided I'll wait until tomorrow to get my free cheese. It will still be there, I hope!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bath and Body Works Promotion

A few weeks ago, I found a coupon for a free 2oz bottle of a new Signature Collection scent at Bath and Body Works. It's called Dark Kiss. Have you heard of it? Since we were at the mall, I picked one up. I'll admit that I don't really care for many of the Signature Collection scents. My favorite is Vanilla Bean Noel but I can only get it at Christmas time. I usually buy a few bottles after Christmas when they are 1/2 price. Last year, I didn't get to the mall in time and they were all sold out. So, currently, I'm out of my favorite scent. However, I instantly fell in love with the new Dark Kiss! It is now my favorite scent. I received an email announcing a buy 3 get 2 free sale on select scents. One of them is my Dark Kiss! This weekend, they are also offering free shipping on orders over $40. I just placed my order and was super surprised because it only charged me for 2 bottles and gave me 3 for free!!!! I picked up two other items that were on clearance to get my order over $40 for the free shipping. I found some body scrub for $6 and a buff sponge for $3. My total for 5 bottles of Dark Kiss, a bottle of body scrub, and a sponge was $32.00. That includes tax. Each bottle of a Signature Collection lotion is $10.50 so you can see that I got a great deal here. Oh man. I just realized that I could have gone through ebates to get 3% back. Bummer. I totally forgot about that. Ok, if you want to try to get in on this deal, go through ebates and use the promo code SC4FREE to get free shipping on orders over $40. I highly recommend the new Dark Kiss!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Office Depot Worklife Rewards

I just received my first Worklife Reward from Office Depot. In June, I bought several items that were advertised as 100% back in worklife rewards. I bought the things I needed and used a $5 off coupon. For several stores I've gotten to know so far, the rewards value would be the cost of the item before coupons. Not so with Office Depot. My worklife reward was for the amount I actually paid. So, unfortunately, it doesn't seem possible to come out ahead at Office Depot.
Conversely, Staples easy rebates are predetermined. So, if you spend $3 after coupons on an item but the easy rebate amount is for $4, you will end up $1 ahead in the end. Plus, my Staples accepts competitors coupons. So, I can take my $5 off Office Depot coupon and use it at Staples. Also, the Staples rebates come as checks so you can cash them and use the money anywhere. The Office Depot Worklife reward is an Office Depot card and expires in a few months.
I guess that's what this process is all about. Live and Learn. After I spend my rewards money, I don't think I'll go out of my way to shop at Office Depot. Unless there's a SUPER awesome deal that I just can't pass up!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I LOVE Milano cookies!

Especially when they're FREE!!!!

I can't help but be excited about this. I just bought six bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies today and didn't pay a cent for any of them!
Remember that I said I didn't think I would go to Albertsons even when they released their "Double Value" coupons? Well, I had every intention of ignoring those doubles coupons because of all the run around they asked me to do. However, as we've all discovered, I can't pass up a good deal. And THIS was a GOOD deal! These cookies were on sale for $1.99 per bag. The Pepperidge Farm website happens to have a $1 off coupon. Unfortunately they will only let you print 2 copies per email. Usually you can only print 2 copies per computer but this was set up a little different. Two copies per computer and per email. So, I had to do some printer juggling and register three of my email accounts but I was able to print 6 coupons. Since I can only use three doubles coupons per transaction, I bought the Milano cookies first, just to make sure it worked the way it was supposed to. Then, because I have to physically leave the store (per their oh-so-friendly manager), I put those in the car and went back in for round two. Since I knew exactly where the cookies were and I wasn't getting anything else, it made each trip nice and speedy and I didn't mind having to leave.
I think I will continue to do most of my shopping at Safeway because they are much more coupon friendly but I may have to make an exception to shopping at Albertsons. I may shop there when I can get free cookies!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bzzzz - L’Oréal® Paris Collagen Micro-Pulse™ Eye

A year or so ago, my sister suggested I become a "Bzz Agent." After learning what a "Bzz Agent" is, I signed up and have had the opportunity to sample many cool products for free. By being a Bzz Agent, I am occasionally offered the opportunity to try new products for free. Why? The manufacturers want people to buy their products and there's nothing better than free advertising. So, Bzz Agents serve as that free advertising. After trying the product, it's hoped that the agent will tell everyone they know how cool/innovative/effective/etc the product is. I think it's a really great way to try stuff for free. So, here is my report for a brand new product.

Have you seen the new L’Oréal® Paris Collagen Micro-Pulse™ Eye cream? It's brand new on the market, released the beginning of July. Here is what it claims to do:
1. Immediately reduces the appearance of crow’s feet and eye bags
2. Minimizes the appearance of eye bags, dark circles and crow’s feet in just four weeks
3. Features a a ground-breaking micro-pulse massager to minimize eye puffiness
Basically, there are two components to this product. 1. A cream that works "immediately" and 2. the micro-pulse vibrator that massages the skin after the cream is applied. The cream contains something they've termed "Erasyl" which "minimizes dark circles for brighter eyes." It also contains collagen which "smoothes away any appearance of under-eye wrinkles and crow's feet." The micro-pulse massager stimulates "circulation with gentle micro-pulsations" which reduces "puffiness and bags for rejuvenated eyes." This came from the flier I received from the company along with my sample.
I've been using the L’Oréal® Paris Collagen Micro-Pulse™ Eye cream for about two weeks now. I really like the way the cream feels. It is not greasy at all but very moisturizing. I do not have eye bags or dark circles so I cannot evaluate it's effectiveness for these conditions. However, I do have crow's feet and am always looking for a way to get rid of them. This, like every other product on the market, does not remove those tiny wrinkles. It does minimize them a little. And, to be honest, I fell the micro-pulse massager is just another gimmick. I cannot say that I have seen any improvement from using that than from using the cream alone. That being said, this product is very reasonably priced at under $20. I saw it on sale for $17.99 at Rite Aid a few weeks ago. Compared to all the other beauty/anti-aging creams around it is better priced and probably just as effective. Pair a sale price with a coupon and you've got a great product for a great price. If you'd like a coupon, please let me know and I'll try to get one to you. Unfortunately, I don't know the value of the coupon but once you get it, you can let me know! Also, if you try the L’Oréal® Paris Collagen Micro-Pulse™ Eye cream, let me know what you think of it.

If you're interested in becoming a BzzzAgent to try new products for free and create Bzzz by talking about them, go here and sign up. It's free and with no obligation.
BzzAgent Badge

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bubble Pizza, Yum!!

I will be the first to admit that I am not a very good cook. I struggle everyday to come up with a somewhat nutritious meal to feed my family for dinner. Over the years, I've invested in many cookbooks. The problem is that most of the recipes take a long time to prepare and require many obscure ingredients that I never have on hand. I'm always on the lookout for recipes that are quick and easy. And, as a bonus, hopefully easy to remember so I don't always have to pull out the recipe to prepare it. I came across this recipe from fabulesslyfrugal. It was nice and easy to prepare, the girls like it, and it was cheap (when you factor in the cost of each ingredient). Here it is:

Bubble Pizza


2 cups pizza cheese (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
Browned sausage (you can also use hamburger, pepperoni, or bacon)
1 jar of pizza sauce I just use pasta sauce
2 tubes buttermilk biscuits.
*Note: I don’t put veggies in this b/c my family doesn’t like the veggies, but feel free to add whatever you would order on your own pizza.


Step #1: Brown and drain the meat.
Step #2: Cut the 2 tubes of biscuits into quarters. I like to use my kitchen scissors for this
Step #3: Put the biscuits into a bowl along with the jar of pizza sauce.
Step #4: Add the meat and any other toppings you may have.
Step #6: Mix it all together. I just throw it all in a glass pan and mix it right in there. I try to dirty up as few dishes as possible!:)
Step #7: Pour into a baking dish (ungreased).
Step #8: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Step #9: No, I didn’t forget the cheese! After baking for 20 minutes, take it out and add your cheese. Now pop it back in the over for 10 more minutes.

I used ground turkey and I made my own biscuit dough from a box of Bisquick I purchased for next to nothing with coupons.
Here's my breakdown of cost per item:
1 1/4 pound ground turkey - about $2 (I bought this during a buy 1 get 1 free sale)
pasta sauce - free (my mom made this and canned it for me but I also recently bought a few jars of pasta sauce for free too)
olives - maybe $0.25 (I bought the cans a long time ago, before I was using coupons so I can't remember exactly but they were probably less than $1 per can and I only used about 1/3)
Bisquick mix - maybe $0.10 (I bought a big box for probably less than $0.50 and I used 2/3 cups from the box so $0.10 is an overestimate)
4 tbsp egg white mix to make the biscuits - maybe $0.25
2 cups cheese - $0.37 (I bought this during a BIG sale. I got 10 bags of shredded cheese for $0.37 each!)
We also warmed up some Rhodes rolls which were $0.50 and some frozen corn which was $1.50.
So total for an entire meal was about $5! I think that's a great price for a good meal.
When you have a chance, try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Coupon success at Target

Last week I read that Target had their Play-Doh magic swirl ice cream shoppe on sale for $8 plus you could get a free pack of Play-Doh with purchase. There is also a $5 off coupon available on line. So, I printed off my coupons and made a morning trip to Target. But... when I got there, they were clean out and I missed this special deal. I was super bummed because I know Sirena would LOVE this and it was an awesome price since it normally sells for $14. Well, tonight when I was swinging through the toy section, I found tons of magic swirl ice cream shoppes priced at $9. I was still carrying my coupons and decided to jump on the deal now instead of waiting for it to go back to full price. I got each one for $4 and I didn't get the extra pack of Play-Doh but it's still a good price so I'm happy.

I got everything above for under $9. Considering the cost of the ice cream shoppes were each $4, that makes the rest pretty cheap. I got four packs of Bic pens (9 pens in each bag) and 6 packs of post-it sticky notes, all for free!! The Sobe's were $0.25 each.

I couldn't find the $1 Rayovac batteries. I guess I'll just have to wait for them to show up again. I was also looking for a Shout deal. In order to do it right, I would need to buy 6 bottles. When I got there, there were only two left. Not enough for my special deal. I guess there are other couponers in the area after the same products I want. Now I have to decide if I want to make another trip later in the week to try again or just scrap it. Who knows. But I'm happy to report that all of my coupons were accepted without a problem. There were none of the bad coupon beeps, only good coupon beeps which meant that they were all accepted! I love it when they scan without problem.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I'm giong to try Target

When starting out with coupons, one of the best pieces of advice I read was to start with one store. Learn that store, their policies, how to shop there and get comfortable there. For me, that store has been Rite Aid. I LOVE RITE AID!!! This week, there are going to be a few really good deals at Target so tomorrow I'm going to try to get in on them. I have had a few problems in the past with my coupons not being accepted and so have not made Target a regular shopping place. But I think the deals I'm going to try to get there make it worth a stop. Target has some of their own coupons which can be "stacked" with manufacturers coupons. You can use a Target coupon PLUS a manufacturers coupon making for some really good deals. Here's what I plan to get.

Bic pens $1 per pack.
Use $1 off 2 packs Target coupon + $1 off 2 packs manufacturers coupon
Two packs should be free

Rayovac batteries $1 per pack
Use $1 off 1 pack coupon
Each pack should be free

Post It Sticky notes $1
Use $1 off 1 pack coupon
Each pack should be free

SoBe 20oz bottles $1
Use $0.50 off 1 bottle Target coupon + Buy 1 Get 1 free manufacturers coupon
Each bottle should be $0.25
This is one where it might be possible to get both for free by using 2 $0.50 off Target coupons. I have read that this is possible in some stores. However, since I haven't had good coupon luck at my store, I'm not going to press my luck.

I've also read that there are many clearanced items in the cleaning section. I plan to take my coupon binder just in case. I never know when I might find something on clearance that would be free with a coupon. I'm not very good at finding those deals yet but I try to keep my eyes open. When I become a coupon genius I hope to be able to spot those deals from a mile away!

I must be getting greedy

How much do you pay for cereal? What would you consider a good price? Just two months ago, I would have considered a box of cereal for under $2.50 a good deal. Have you looked at the price of those boxes lately? It's outrageous how much cereal is these days. I was clued into a great deal on Kellogg's products this week at Safeway. The ad stated that if I bought 10 boxes of various Kellogg's products, I would get a $10 Catalina coupon good on my next purchase at Safeway. This is like getting $10 back! The items that I purchased were all priced at $1.99 each. That's a great deal, right? Anyway, I bought 6 boxes of Pop Tarts at $1.99 each. I then used three $1 off two boxes coupons which made each box $1.49. I also bought 4 boxes of the new Cinnabon cereal at $1.99 per box. I had 4 $1 off 1 box coupons for these. So $8.49 for Pop Tarts and $3.96 for cereal. Total was $12.45. Kellogg's is also offering a $10 rebate when you buy 10 products. So the deal was supposed to go like this. Pay $12.45. Get back a $10 Catalina coupon and then submit for a $10 rebate thus ending up with $7.55 more than I started with. How sweet is that!! However, my Catalina didn't print, boo. I wasn't paying attention at the time so didn't notice. Now I'm bummed because I'll only get back the rebate and had to pay $2.45 for 6 boxes of Pop Tarts and 4 boxes of cereal. How greedy is that!? I have to keep reminding myself that I'm paying less than I used to pay, even if there are gliches with the deals. But there is always a learning point to be made. Currently, when I go shopping, I have my shopping list, the prices I expect each item to be, how many of each I will buy, which coupons I plan to used and what the approximate total I expect to pay is. From now on, I will include any Catalinas I expect to get back. Then, if one doesn't print, I can try to find out why while I'm still at the store where they can help me. It doesn't work if I get home and then realize I didn't get my Catalina. By then it's too late. And I will continue to try to be grateful for any deals I get, even if they aren't the ones I had been expecting. Any saving is better than no saving!

Monday, August 2, 2010

This should be illegal!

I just had to go try to get some deals tonight. I wasn't really prepared for all scenarios so I didn't make out as well as I had planned. My first trip was to Rite Aid. I got everything below for $20.53 (including tax). That alone is pretty impressive in my book. What makes the whole thing crazy is that I will get back $22.49 as a Single Check Rebate. Essentially, I end up with $2 more than I starter PLUS everything in the picture. Crazy!!

After Rite Aid, I stopped quickly at Albertsons. They have "doubler" coupons valid until Tuesday. So I was able to double three coupons in one transaction. After all sales and coupons and doublers, I got the four items below for $0.96. Plus, I was given the opportunity to call in on a phone survey to get a code for $2 off my next purchase. Again, counting the coupon code I was given, I basically made $1 and got the rest for free!!

Something about the whole thing seems wrong. I keep thinking it should be illegal to end up with more money than you start with. However, it's all legit so I get to be super excited about getting stuff for free!

I was thinking about going back to Albertsons in the morning to finish up my doubler coupons but I feel pretty tired right now and not at all interested. However, the pasta sauce was free and I may just head back and pick up some more. I have a hard time passing up free.

How did I get pasta sauce for free? It's currently priced at $0.99. There is a printable coupon that is $1 off 2 jars of Prego. When combined with a doubler coupon, it becomes $2 off 2 jars. When each jar is priced at less than $1, they're free after coupons. There is a Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies coupon available. I may have to print that one and double it and get a bag of Milano cookies. I can't pass those up very easily! Who knows what will happen tomorrow!?

Friday, July 30, 2010

I just want to kick myself!

I was going to skip my weekly trip to Rite Aid (I think I said that last week too) but I decided to make a quick stop there on my way home this morning. I had my shopping list and all my coupons ready to go. There were some good deals I was looking for. One possible problem I could foresee was with a manufacturers coupon that had a Target logo on it. Some of the coupons printed from the Target website are manufacturers coupons so can technically be used anywhere but some stores have refused to accept them because of the Target logo. So the first thing I did when I got to the check stand was ask if they would take my coupon with a Target logo. She rang everything up and then called the manager. After some discussion, they scanned it and the coupon went through without problems. She then scanned all my other coupons and we got to talking about rainchecks. Since I normally go to Rite Aid on Wednesday, I've usually been able to find most of what I was looking for. However, there are other savvy shoppers in the area and today some of the items I wanted were sold out. I requested a raincheck and went through the motions with that. Then, I paid for all of my purchases which I thought was more than I had calculated before hand. This has happened to me before because I miscalculate something at home and the total is different once I get to the store. So I brushed that thought aside and paid for everything. In the car on the way home, I had this feeling that something wasn't right. I pulled out my receipt and noticed that I didn't have any of the +UP rewards I had been expecting. At home I totaled $5 I should have gotten back from my purchases which I didn't get. I looked closer at my receipt and realized that I hadn't gotten the sale prices on anything I bought either. I was upset about not getting my $5 back but then more upset when I saw I didn't get the sale prices. After taking a few breaths and thinking back to my time at the checkout counter, I remembered that I never gave her my Rite Aid Rewards card!! I can't get the special deals without scanning my card, duh. So now I want to kick myself for forgetting that most important step in the whole process. This is still very new to me and there are so many things to remember about how to get the best deals. I can assure you though, I will never forget to give my Rewards card again!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summary of Month One at Rite Aid

I finally had a chance to calculate my totals for my shopping trips to Rite Aid last month. Basically, I started shopping at Rite Aid the last week of June. Since then I have spent $188.01. This is including tax but minus all coupons, so total out of pocket. I really wish I could calculate the before coupons total because that would really make for an impressive number. However, I've thrown away some of my receipts and those numbers are gone. Last week I requested my Single Check Rebate for all the products I purchased that qualified. I will be getting back $93.63 as an SCR. Rite Aid was also offering a Rite Aid gift card if you spent more than $50 on skin care products. I will be getting a $30 gift card for this. AND, I sent in for a rebate on a Neutrogena product which should rebate the full purchase price which was $39.99. This brings my total refund amount to $163.62. The difference between the amount I paid and the amount I will get back is $24.39. I was sort of hoping to break even and get all my purchases for free because that would be really impressive. But, I can't complain with paying less than $25 for an incredible amount of stuff. I hope I can do as well or even better in August. I think I may have started my own personal competition!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This week is VBS for the girls so I've been taking advantage of being child-free and doing a lot of shopping. Mostly school supplies since those are currently on sale everywhere. Today I went to Staples because there were some deals too good to miss. For example, a ream of paper is $0.01, limit 2. I can't pass up a 1 penny ream of paper so I had to get some. Never mind that I already have 6 stacked up because I've discovered that you can get reams of paper for almost nothing. In fact, I believe some of those reams have really been free. And, with all the coupons I'll be printing and the school stuff I print all the time, I figure I'll use up lots of paper. So I went to get two more reams. I also bought 2 packs of 6 colored highlighters for $0.25 each and 2 packs of 8 Bic ball point pens for $0.01 each. When I went to the check stand, my "rewards" card informed the cashier that I am with the "Jove School for the Gifted." She asked me if I was a teacher there and of course I said yes. She then told me that, as a teacher, I could get 20 packs of the pens for $0.01 each instead of the 2 pack limit advertised for everyone else. I was conflicted so I stayed with my two packs. Is it cheating to take advantage of those special offers when I'm not a "licensed" teacher? Or when my intention is to use the pens for personal use and not school use? Does a homeschool mom qualify as a teacher? To honestly say I qualify for those special "teacher" deals? Or is that being dishonest? I really don't know. But it would have been AWESOME to get 160 pens for $0.20! What would I do with all those pens if I had them anyway...

Oh, and the total of my purchases will be $0.54 + tax after I get my rebate back for the paper. Staples has a really easy rebate program called... "staples easy rebates"! You simply visit the easy rebate web site and enter some info from your store receipt as well as your contact info. In a few weeks, you get a check for the rebate. No stamps or envelopes or hassle. Easy!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Yesterday we went to Safeway to get some groceries that we were in desperate need of. One of which was milk. While we were there, I decided to check out some items that I have e-coupons for. When people find out that I am couponing, I'm asked if I buy things that I wouldn't ordinarily, just to use the coupon. And I would have to say, "yes."

I wouldn't have purchased any of the items in this picture except that I had an e-coupon for each item. The really cool thing about e-coupons is that you can use more than one for each product, unlike printed coupons. E-coupons are coupons that you "load" to your shopper or club card. The main sites that offer e-coupons are shortcuts and cellfire. When the cashier swipes your shopper card, if you have a coupon for anything you purchased, any and all coupons for that product will automatically be deducted from your bill. In addition, you can use a hard copy coupon for the product.

Looking at my picture above. The Nature Valley nut clusters cost $3.49. I had two $1.00 off 1 coupons loaded from shortcuts and two $1.00 off 1 coupons loaded from cellfire, essentially giving me $4 off 1 bag. I then used a $1.00 off 1 print coupon to get $5 off 1 bag of nut clusters. If the bag cost $3.49, how can you get $5 off? The overage, is applied to other items on your bill. So, the extra here almost paid for a gallon of milk. The Betty Crocker warm delights brownie bowl was $1.46. I had two $0.50 off 1 e-coupons and one $0.50 off 1 print coupon for a total of $1.50 off. This made the warm delights free and gave me $0.04 to apply to something else in my bill. I have never tried the Yoplait delights yogurt but with coupons, I decided to try them. One box of 4 yogurt cups cost $2.29. I had three $1.00 off 1 e-coupons and one $1.00 off 1 print coupon, giving me $4.00 off. This allowed $1.71 to be applied to the rest of my bill. The Glade candles were "on-sale" for $3.99 each unless you bought 4, then the price was $1.99 each. I didn't have enough coupons to buy 4 but I found one candle that was priced "for quick sale." This candle was $2.49. I had two $1.00 off 1 e-coupons and one $1.00 off 1 print coupon giving me $3.00 off a $2.49 candle.

The "club" card cost of these four items was $9.73 prior to coupons. I used $13.50 worth of coupons (e-coupons + print coupons) making all items free and giving me $3.77 to apply towards other items I purchased!

So, yes, I do buy items I haven't used before and probably wouldn't buy without the coupons, but if I can get them for free, why not!?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another trip to Rite Aid

I didn't really feel the need to get to Rite Aid this week but they had cosmetics on sale so I decided to go. Here's my run down.

3 Revlon fabulash mascaras Regularly priced at $6.99 on sale for 40% off which made them each $4.19. I then used 3 X $1 off 1 Revlon products which brought them to $3.19 each. I also received a $4 +UP coupon for purchasing over $10 of Revlon products.
1 Cryostat hemorrhoid medication (you never know when someone might need this) Regularly priced at $12.99. On sale for $8.99. I used a $2 off coupon to make it $6.99. There is a $8.99 Single check rebate on this product making it a $2 money maker.
1 Zegerid 14ct Regularly priced at $12.99. On sale for $10. I used a $3 off Zegerid manufacturers coupon + $3 off Video Values coupon + $3 off in-ad coupon making this $1. This purchase qualified for a $7 +UP coupon making this a $6 money maker.
With this transaction, I also used a $5 off $25 Rite Aid purchase coupon and $3 +UP coupons I received from a previous transaction.
My total was $11.75 (with tax) and I will receive $8.99 back with a Single Check Rebate and $11 +UP coupons which I used for the second transaction.

1 AirWick mini freshmatic starter kit Regularly $9.99 on sale for $4.99. I used $4 off one starter kit coupon making this $0.99
1 Smooth Move herbal laxative tea Regularly $5.99 on sale for $3.69. Will receive a SCR for $3.69
1 DrNatura ColonAide natural cleansing kit (I thought I might give this to my mom since she likes these types of things!) Regularly $29.99 on sale for $22.99. Will receive a SCR for $22.99
1 Dulcolax Balance Regularly $12.99 on sale for $9.99. Will receive a SCR for $9.99
I used my $11 +UP coupons from transaction #1 plus a $5 off $25 Rite Aid purchase.
My total on this one was $25.07 (with tax) and I will receive $36.67 in single check rebates.

I paid $36.82 for both transactions, including tax and will receive $45.66 back in rebates earning me $8.84, 3 mascaras, really good colon health, and an air freshener which may be needed after all those colon products!

Ebates and on-line shopping

If you do any shopping on-line, you need to sign up with ebates. Ebates is a shopping site that gives you up to 26% Cash Back every time you shop online. You can shop at over 1000 stores including eBay, JCPenney, Macy's, Nordstrom, Overstock.com, Walmart, Kohl's and Home Depot. When you sign up, you will receive a $5 gift card simply for joining. I actually got to pick a $10 Home Depot card when I signed up but they advertise that you get a $5 card. Just know that it could be more depending on what you choose. After signing up, you simply start your shopping at the Ebates site and pick the store you wish to shop from. When you order, you automatically get a certain % of your total back from Ebates. Nothing else to do. If you're going to shop anyway, you might as well get something back from using Ebates. Sign up now!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Need A Budget

Many of those who are older and wiser than me would probably agree that everyone needs a budget to manage their money. I believe this also. However, I have found it difficult to track our money effectively in this modern age when we hardly ever have cash in our hands. We have used Quicken for many years but it really hasn't made much difference in our spending habits. The only thing I can get it to do well is run spending reports. This comes in very handy when I need to present the HOA finances at a meeting (I'm the HOA treasurer). Our personal spending habits, on the other hand, have always been hard to grasp.
In my neverending quest to be more organized, I downloaded a free spreadsheet for my hundreds of coupons I've already acquired. When I opened the program, there was a sort of "welcome" page that described the spreadsheet creator and his purpose for making spreadsheets for money management. In the midst of his writing, he mentioned the, not-so-pleasant, task of budgeting. He then quickly described a software program I'd never heard of, YNAB3. Definitely not one of the big names. But the description was enough for me to look further and read more reviews. I liked almost everything I read and decided to download the 7 day free trial. I have had it for 2 days now and see the incredible potential it has for budgeting.
This is not a checkbook register type program like Quicken. You do enter transactions and reconcile them to your accounts. However, the difference is in the budgeting.
After setting up your accounts, you set up a budget. For me, this is difficult because I don't know exactly how much money we currently spend on things like gas or groceries. So I'm starting out with very rough estimates. I will use groceries as an example of how the budgeting portion of the program works. Let's say I budget $500 per month to groceries. As I enter transactions in the "groceries" category, they are automatically deducted from the groceries portion of my budget. I start out the month with $500. During week one I spend $60 at Albertsons and $40 at Safeway. When looking at my budget screen it will tell me that I have $400 left in my grocery budget for the month. Week two I spend $175 at Costco and $25 at Wallmart. I'm now down to $300. Week three, another $50 goes to Albertsons and Safeway each, taking the amount left for groceries down to $200. I'm just too tired to do any grocery shopping during week four so I end the month having used only $300 of the $500 budgeted for groceries that month. Now I start month two and again I have budgeted $500 for the month. HOWEVER, since I didn't use $200 of the $500 budgeted for month one, this amount carries over to the next month and I now have $700 in my budget for groceries that month. The basic design of the program is the "envelope" system. I remember my mom using this system when I was younger. She would put cash into different envelopes and use only what was in the envelopes. When they were empty, there was no more spending for that category unless you stole from another envelope. Now, YNAB3 allows you to do the same thing only virtually.
The one thing I dislike about the program so far is the inability to easily download transactions from an account. However, this may not be such a bad thing since there is somewhat of a delay between when a purchase is made and when it is posted to your account. Manually entering transactions will help us stay on top of our spending.
Are you wondering what YNAB means? Well, the creators of the software were not very creative. They simply took the idea "You Need A Budget" and condensed it down to YNAB. Clever? Maybe. Creative? Not really.
If you are interested in finding an easier way to monitor your spending or following a budget, look into YNAB3 (oh, the 3 is because this is the 3rd version). YNAB3

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rite Aid trip

I've decided that I may have to make weekly trips to Rite Aid. In the past, I haven't enjoyed shopping very much. However, now that I have my shopping lists and coupons ready before I leave the house, it makes the experience much better. So I'm not opposed to frequent, short trips anymore.

The summary of tonight's trip is as follows:
Total spent, $50.59 (that's including tax)
I cannot easily tell how much the price was prior to coupons (my calculator is not close at hand right now.)
I will submit for a $39.99 rebate from Neutrogena.
I will also get back as a single check rebate $7.69
Which makes my total cost $2.91!

Now I want to calculate the total cost of my purchases, prior to coupons.
$71.64 (not including tax).

Something I thought about later. With each receipt, Rite Aid prints off a coupon for $1 off a $10 hair care purchase. This is part of their +UP program. This can be used pre-coupons. Tonight I purchased $12 of shampoo. I could have used this +UP coupon to get an extra $1 off but maybe I'm just being too greedy!

Albertson's doublers and B1G1 meat sale

Yesterday was the last day to use the Albertson's doubler coupons. I don't know of any other opportunities to double coupons in this area (yet) so I have to take advantage of the doublers when they come out. I get three copies of the paper which gives me three sets of three doubler coupons. The last time I used doublers, I learned that you can only use three doublers per transaction. So this time, I had all my transactions planned and set all my items on the belt. Three sets of three doublers would make three transactions to use all of them. When I got to the cashier she told me they've made a new policy which requires you to leave the building between each transaction. Oh boy, what a pain. She was very nice about it since I had all my items unloaded from my cart and on the belt. She rang up all three transactions with the warning, "don't do it again." Here is what I got and how much I paid.

Transaction number 1
4 boxes Kellogg's poptarts 12ct
2 boxes Kellogg's Rice Krispies, big box
2 boxes Kellogg's Frosted Flakes big box
They were having a special. Buy 8 items and pay $1.50 each. So the total for this part was $12. Then I had 4 coupons for $1 off 2 items. I could only double 3 so these coupons removed $7 making the total for 8 boxes, $5. I also bought:
2 Skinny Cow ice cream cups, small $1.25 each
use 2X$1 off any skinny cow product to pay $0.25 per ice cream cup.
Total for transaction #1 was $5.50

Transaction number 2
6 boxes Kraft Mac & Cheese for $0.79 each
I used 3 $0.55 off 2 boxes coupons and doubled them, making each box $0.24 (the price at Costco is $0.50 per box).
I also bought a bag of Jet Puff marshmallows for $1. No coupon but I needed some to make the Rice Krispie treats with the boxes I bought in transaction #1.
I found some chicken tenders in the meat dept that were priced at $5.24 and $5.14 with $3 off stickers on each package. Making the chicken tenders $2.24 and $2.14 for about 1pound each. I don't know if this is a good price or not but I couldn't pass up $3 off.
So, transaction number 2 was a total of $6.82.

Transaction number 3 had most of the meat.
I bought another 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese and doubled another coupon.
I also bought 2 bags of Mission tortillas for $1.99. I had two coupons for $0.75 off any one bag of tortillas which I double to make each bag cost $0.49.
I took advantage of the buy1get1 meat sale and bought four packs of round steak at $2.25/lb (adjusted price), two packs of fresh chicken breast at $2.50/lb (adjusted price).
The total for transaction number 3 was $30.29.

I recently found a list of "stock up" meat prices which I will be on the look out for from now on. Our freezer is pretty well stocked but if the price is right, I will try to take advantage of it to replenish our supplies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beating Costco

I have to admit that I once thought Costco had really good prices. Buying in bulk from the big warehouse is supposed to be cheaper, right? I suppose this is true most of the time for most of the people. However, I'm learning that with a little effort, you can beat Costco prices and sometimes even make a little money while doing it. This is really cool to me. I love getting stuff for free and making money too! Right now, Office Depot has some items that are free or close to free after mail in rebate. In the past, I've hesitated to do rebates because it seemed like too much work to fill out the forms and I never sent them in by their due date. Now that I see I can get most of my money back, I'm going to be very diligent about sending in my rebates. The first couponing website I was introduced to is hip2save. This is the deal she posted for Office Depot.

Wanna make some $ with your Office Depot purchase?! Check out this deal scenario below…
Buy 1 Swingline LightTouch Reduced Effort Stapler $13.99
Buy 2 Office Depot Brand Multipurpose Paper Reams 500 sheets $6.29 each
(I would encourage you to buy 2 as this is great paper for printing coupons :D )
Total $26.57
Use the $10/$25 coupon found here
Pay $16.57
Submit for the $13.99 Swingline mail-in rebate
Submit for 2 $5.29 Mail in Savings Visa Prepaid cards from the paper purchase
Final Cost FREE plus $8 moneymaker!

Tonight I stopped by Office Depot on the way home and purchased all the items above. When my rebates come back, I will be ahead $8, two reams of paper and a stapler. A ream of paper costs almost $3 at Costco so I definitely beat Costco with this one!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Still learning

I guess I need to learn a little more about how to blog well. My tables below didn't turn out very well. There were supposed to be columns to show which number went in the coupon column and which went in the +UP and SCR column. It looks all squished together. Sorry about that, to whoever might happen upon this blog and read it.

A Really Good Shopping Trip

I've decided that my new favorite store is Rite Aid. My Rite Aid is quiet and clean and I never feel like I'm holding up a line while using my coupons. The cashiers are awesome and accept all coupons without question. PLUS, you can stack many coupons on each item to make for some really great deals. Rite Aid has two separate programs to help in your couponing mission. Since I'm still new to blogging, I don't know how to link to the individual pages directly yet. But, you can find the links at riteaid.com. The first program is the video values program. By watching very short videos, you can earn manufacturers coupons for certain products. These coupons can be stacked with other manufacturers coupons found in coupon inserts or printed on line. Plus, these two types of coupons can be stacked with Rite Aid coupons. Thus allowing you to use three coupons per item! The other program at Rite Aid is their Single Check Rebates. Every month they give rebates on certain products, sometimes up to the full purchase price of the item. The cool thing is, they don't care if you used a coupon at purchase to pay less. They'll still refund the full amount!! I've learned that in the couponing world, this is called a "moneymaker." You end up with more money than you had. And, I guess, we can include a third benefit from Rite Aid with their +UP rewards. These are coupons that print out after the purchase of certain items. I had a hard time understanding these at first but I think I've got them down now. So, here's my shopping trip from last night. Please remember that I am new to this and it took a lot of planning to make my shopping list and then a lot of time in the store finding the correct products. Last night was only my 3rd time in Rite Aid. Also, while I was there, I realized that I had pulled the wrong coupon for the body wash. Fortunately, I had my coupon binder with me to find the matching coupon. Otherwise, I would have had to scrap the body wash from my list. Here's the rundown. I used two transactions to use two $5 off $25 purchase coupons. Oh, that's another really cool thing. The $25 is PRE coupons! Here we go.

Item Cost Coupons +UP reward SCR
Crest toothpaste $2.49 -$0.75 $2.00
Renu contact solution $7.29 -$4.00 $7.29
Kendall first aid gauze 2 for $7.00 -$2.00 $1.00 $3.00
Gillette Body Wash 2 for $8.00 -$6.00 $2.00
Allergy Buster $9.99 $9.00
Blink eye drops $7.99 -$1.50 $2.00

Total $46.76 -$16.25 $5.00 $21.29
I also used $13.00 +UP coupons I had from the last shopping trip I took and a $5 off $25 coupon I had. This made my out of pocket cost $12.51. I got $5 +UP back and will get $21.29 back in rebates.

Here's transaction number 2.
Item Cost Coupons +UP reward SCR
Crest toothpaste $2.49 -$0.75 $2.00
Mitchum deodorant (3) $10.50 -$2.25 $2.00
Crest mouth rinse $4.99 -$2.00 $3.00
Glide floss 2pk $5.99 -$0.75 $4.00
Milk 1 gallon $1.99 No coupons, I just needed milk!

Total $25.95 -$5.75 $2.00 $9.00
I used the $5.00 +UP rewards earned from transaction number one above plus a $5 off $25 purchase. This made my out of pocket cost $10.21 with a $2.00 +UP coupon back to use on my next purchase and $9.00 to come back as a single check rebate.

Here's my total for the entire shopping trip. Total cost of items $72.72. My out of pocket was $22.72. My single check rebates from these purchases will be $30.29. So, I guess you could say, I earned $7.57 by shopping last night! That's awesome!! Shopping doesn't seem like such a chore when you can make money doing it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I just finished inputting all the data I collected last night at CostCo. Call me a geek but I'm really proud of this. It's really reassuring to be able to look at the numbers and know exactly how much I've been paying. In the end, I'm not sure that CostCo has the best prices. For example, the price for Heinz ketchup in the really big jar is $0.04 per ounce. Right now, Target has a 40oz bottle on sale for $1. This calculates to $0.02 per ounce. That's a 50% savings right there. Even though I don't have a coupon, I'd be getting a better price buying at Target. I may have to make a trip over there before they run out.

I also discovered that I recently made a good decision to buy some FiberOne bars on sale at Target for $2 per box and use a $0.50 off coupon. This turned out to be $0.25 per bar and at CostCo they are $0.32 per bar.

I now know that we pay $0.50 per box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Rite Aid is selling boxes at Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Plus, I have a coupon. So as long as this calculates out to <$0.50 per box, I'll try to use all my coupons to get a better deal than CostCo!

Monday, July 5, 2010

In the beginning...

As of today, I've been couponing for about 1 month. I've learned many things along the way and have found that it is possible to save a lot of money with coupons. One thing I felt needed to be done was to make a list of how much we currently pay for the items we buy most often. Currently, we do most of our shopping at CostCo. I love buying in bulk because it means fewer shopping trips and I usually have what I need on hand when I need it. Tonight we took a trip to CostCo and I went down every aisle and wrote down the price and quantity of each item we purchase frequently. I plan to put this info into a spreadsheet to have on hand whenever I evaluate a deal. It's only a good deal if it saves me money. So, the goal at this time is to beat CostCo prices. In order to do that, I need to know what CostCo prices are. Tomorrow I plan to input my data in my spreadsheet and start analyzing the numbers. We'll see where that takes me...